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LATE RACE MAGIC: Shirley Passes Blair Late to Win at Sycamore
Pierce runs sixth, clinches Illinois-Iowa Week points bonus
MAPLE PARK, IL – June 19, 2022 – It was never a question of “if” for Brian Shirley on the first week of the Hell Tour, so much as it was “when.”
That “when” came Sunday night at Sycamore Speedway, where the four-time DIRTcar Summer Nationals champion broke through for his first win of the season on the tour, making the move on Max Blair for the lead late in the race and driving it home for a $5,000 payday.
“I felt like our car was pretty good,” Shirley said. “I knew I was gonna have to make a pretty big mistake to cost myself the race.”
Polesitter Payton Freeman, of Commerce, GA, got the early jump at the drop of the green and led through Lap 9 of the 40-lap main event. World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Series regular Max Blair soon hunted Freeman down as the 19-year-old Hell Tour rookie approached lapped traffic and got underneath him to take the top spot on Lap 10.
Blair, of Centerville, PA, led the field around the three-eighths mile oval for the majority of the race, and appeared to have the car to beat, until Shirley entered the frame.
Shirley, who went as far back as fifth in the opening laps, had made his way past fellow Summer Nationals champion Jason Feger by Lap 22 after a back-and-forth battle that spanned several laps before the halfway mark. Once he cleared Feger’s #25, Shirley set his sights on Blair with less than half of the race remaining.
Blair survived multiple restarts in the second half with Shirley right behind him, but lapped traffic proved problematic in the home stretch. Heading down the backstretch with nine-to-go, Blair came up on Greg Cantrell Jr. to put him a lap down but did not fully commit to the bottom to make the pass. This left the door wide open for Shirley to walk through, which he did, and won the drag race off Turn 4 to take the lead at the stripe.
“We came up on them lapped cars and I felt like he got pinched-down, and I just chose to go around him on the outside,” Shirley, of Chatham, IL, said. “Wasn’t sure how it was going to play out just because of the way lapped traffic was. We were just getting ready to be in lapped traffic big time.”
Though he had the lead in-hand, Shirley’s mission was not over yet. Another couple of restarts popped up inside eight-to-go, but he and the Bob Cullen Racing #3s were prepared. Shirley stuck to the middle groove and brought it back home unchallenged for his 37th career DIRTcar Summer Nationals victory.
Blair held on for second and his best career finish on the Hell Tour, while Feger maintained third to hold his top-five spot in points. Ryan Unzicker climbed eight spots on a run from 12th to finish fourth, and Dennis Erb Jr. capped off Illinois-Iowa Week with a fifth-place run.
Reigning Summer Nationals champion Bobby Pierce finished sixth and was crowned champion of Illinois-Iowa Week after two wins, two runners-up, a sixth and one DNF (17th) over the six-race stretch, collecting the $2,000 bonus as weekly points champion.
The Hell Tour takes a day off on Monday before returning to action at Missouri’s Springfield Raceway on Tuesday, June 21. If you can’t be at the track, stream all the action to your personal device with the DIRTVision app or at DIRTVision.com.
ABBREVIATED RESULTS (view full results)
Feature 40 Laps | 00:33:22.784
1. 3S-Brian Shirley; 2. 111V-Max Blair; 3. 25-Jason Feger; 4. 24-Ryan Unzicker; 5. 28-Dennis Erb Jr; 6. 32- Bobby Pierce; 7. F1-Payton Freeman; 8. 36-Logan Martin; 9. 15-Justin Duty; 10. 77-Preston Luckman; 11. 14G-Joe Godsey; 12. 21B-Rich Bell; 13. 1M-Mike Mataragas; 14. 89-Mike Spatola; 15. 4G-Bob Gardner; 16. 26M-Brent McKinnon; 17. 4D-Doug Tye; 18. 30-Mark Voigt; 19. 3-Dale Markham; 20. 01JR- Greg Cantrell; 21. 10S-Taylor Scheffler; 22. 29-Spencer Diercks
MAKE IT FIVE: Hoffman Motors to Five-Straight Summit Modified Wins at Sycamore
The streak just keeps on going for Nick Hoffman.
Sunday night’s DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals event at Sycamore Speedway was another perfect night for the four-time and defending champion, as he swept the night with top finishes in Qualifying, Heat Race, and leading every lap of the Feature for his 62nd career triumph on the Hell Tour.
To do it, he had to beat Midlothian, TX-racer Chase Allen, who’s not as accustomed to racing the UMP-style Modified typically found in the area. However, he’s been consistent through the first week of the tour, appearing in all five Features contested.
“Chase Allen’s done a really good job racing with us,” Hoffman said. “This is a whole different deal for him to come over and race on our tires and our playing field. He’s been pretty good.”
Next week, Hoffman and the Summit Modified regulars take aim at some staple Illinois and Missouri venues, like Spoon River Speedway, Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55, and the newly reopened Adams County Speedway in Quincy, IL. But first, two days off on Monday-Tuesday, setting up a return to action in Quincy on Wednesday, June 22.
“These couple places coming up – I haven’t been to Quincy in probably three years, so that place should be interesting,” Hoffman said.
ABBREVIATED RESULTS (view full results)
Feature 15 Laps | 00:05:53.320
1. 2-Nick Hoffman; 2. 130-Chase Allen; 3. 26-Anthony Carter; 4. 17H-Scott Hauge; 5. 54-Zachary Hawk